TikTok faces Australian security investigation as Donald Trump threatens US ban

·3-min read

Australia has launched a security investigation into TikTok, according to local media reports, as the Chinese-owned video sharing app comes under increasing pressure worldwide.

The platform has already been banned in India and on Friday Donald Trump told reporters that he wanted to ban it. Other countries, including Japan, are also investigating the app over privacy and security concerns.

Prime Minister Scott Morison has asked intelligence agencies to investigate whether it poses a security threat, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported on Sunday.

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The report continued that the Department of Home Affairs was also exploring what steps the government can take to manage any privacy or data security risks posed by the app, adding that the biggest Chinese social media platforms WeChat was facing similar scrutiny.

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Some Australian members of parliament have called for a ban on TikTok, which is owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance.

TikTok has been under scrutiny by lawmakers in the US since last year over concerns that the company would be forced to hand over user data to the Chinese government based on Beijing’s 2017 national security law.

TikTok has said users do not have to worry about data security, and told ABC that it would not hand over Australian users’ data to any foreign government, including China.

But the increasing international backlash against China in recent months has seen the country’s tech firms come under increasing scrutiny.

Last month India banned TikTok along with dozens of other Chinese apps following a deadly clash between soldiers along the disputed border.

Last week some Japanese lawmakers announced they were investigating restrictions on Chinese apps, including TikTok, out of fear data could fall to the Chinese government.

US senators urge Justice Department to investigate Zoom and TikTok’s ties to Beijing

The Australian investigation also comes amid steadily deteriorating relations between Canberra and Beijing over issues such as trade and security.

Last week Australian and Chinese ambassadors clashed on Twitter after Canberra sided with the US in dismissing China’s claims in the South China Seas as “without legal basis”.

Australian high commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell said he was “deeply concerned” that China’s actions in the South China Sea were “destabilising” and “could provoke escalation”.

China’s ambassador to India Sun Weidong replied that “it’s clear who safeguards peace and stability, and who [destabilises and provokes] escalation in the region.”

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